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5 years’ time – what can customers expect from last-mile delivery?

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by Startacus Admin


Jack Underwood, co-founder and CEO of Circuit shares his insights on the changes that customers can expect to see from last-mile delivery in the future

Jack headshotThe move to online shopping has accelerated considerably over the past 18 months. In February 2021, 75% of people were shopping online more than they were in March 2020 pre- pandemic. The rise in demand has consequently increased the expectations customers have of their retail experience.

Next day and even same-day delivery is the norm meaning the old 3-5 working day time frame is no longer adequate for shoppers. Customers now also expect detailed and timely communications - they want to know what time and date they’ll get their package and where it’ll be left if they aren’t home.

There’s also a variety of delivery options available when buying online. From click and collect to your own ‘locker’ in a convenient location, delivery is no longer just to your address. E- commerce continues to rise and grow with new technology making it ever faster and more convenient, yet one part of the retail journey, last-mile delivery, is still plagued with issues that impact the customer experience.

In an ideal world, all packages would be delivered to the correct address quickly and on the first attempt. However, we all know the process very rarely runs that smoothly. In 2021 38% of adults in the UK received the dreaded “sorry we missed you” card through their door - despite being home at the time. This is a frustrating situation for all parties, and unrealistic delivery targets set for the drivers can be attributed some of the blame.

Improvement is needed. So, what changes can customers expect to see from last-mile delivery in the future?

Driver Analytics

65592644-b361-46ef-8960-a4b94d4573b8_09ac5c9d-4f59-421a-b5dc-889871e2b7adDriver analytics will allow couriers to expel those doing a poor job and hurting their brands. Quality will become just as important as quantity, leaving horror stories of packages thrown over the gate or left out in the rain as a past memory. This will allow recipient perception of the delivery industry to shift from severely negative to positive. A search across social media platforms for the dialogue between customers and at top UK courier companies reveals just how negative of an experience customers are having.

We recently carried out this exact research. Monitoring over 8,000 tweets from customers toward courier services from DHL to Hermes, we found that 83% of all tweets to the UK’s top courier companies are negative. One of the greatest issues across most regions was late delivery, with other issues such as misplaced packages and deliveries to the wrong address also driving customer complaints. This highlights not only that the delivery system still has room for improvement but also that there are a range of areas that need to be addressed. By monitoring how each driver is working and delivering, retailers and couriers will be able to pinpoint these issues and mitigate the consequences more quickly and efficiently.

Sustainable Delivery

Environmentally aware consumers will see that the current delivery system is unsustainable. The expected number of packages we’re likely to order is expected to treble by 2030. This means triple the number of deliveries and triple the amount of pollution. Still we can already see examples of more sustainable delivery methods.

Our takeaway food deliveries rarely get to us by car. Bikes and electric scooters have proven to be the fastest and most efficient way of navigating larger cities. With this, the use of electric vehicles is already on the rise for package delivery. Still, it will soon become standard as consumers want to see courier companies taking responsibility for their emissions.

Booking Delivery

92d3465a-9409-4f65-b63c-39dc8ed94240_BlogCover_GoogleMapsShortestRoutWe may also start to see a more standardised process when it comes to delivery. Food deliveries in the UK are all based on a booking system. Customers can have their delivery at a convenient time. This leads to less missed deliveries and is more efficient for the drivers as they don’t have to plan around making a return journey.

Royal Mail now offers a similar service for packages. Where you can choose a time that you will be available to sign for a delivery or rebook a missed delivery when you know you’ll be home. This helps set realistic targets for drivers – as a booking system would allow them adequate time to drop off each delivery. With each customer knowing their timeslot, they’ll be prepared to receive their package.

Delivery communication

Currently, every courier operates differently. Sometimes you’ll receive a text to let you know your delivery is coming. Other times you may get an email, phone call or not hear anything about your delivery until it’s at your door. Some couriers may operate through an app that lets you track how close your driver is.

There’s no consistency with how we receive our updates. This is an area of last-mile delivery that could boost customer experience and driver efficiency if improved. If customers knew how and where to reach them, their driver could leave the package in an agreed location with neighbors or ask for a rescheduled delivery without the wasted time of courier drivers.

These changes will make delivery a seamless process. We can’t predict the future, but we can plan for what we want it to be. Last-mile delivery, as it stands, is inadequate for drivers, retailers and the customer - we need to fix it.

About the Author

Jack Underwood is the Co-founder and CEO of Circuit, a software company that is focussed on fixing delivery. Over the last decade Jack has been on a mission - using his fresh perspective and passion for good design - to improve app user experiences. The creation of Circuit Route Planner in 2017, when Jack was 23, was just the beginning and since then he has continued to expand Circuit’s remit. In 2019, the Circuit for Teams app was launched, allowing businesses to both enable deliveries and manage multiple drivers. Today, Circuit has an ARR of $10M and has helped make over 200M deliveries across the globe.

And incidentally, changes in how we will work in the future will be very much on the radar at our upcoming hybrid Work: In Progress event. We’d love you to join us!

work in progress

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Published on: 29th September 2021

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